Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are encouraging people who plan to shop or support hospitality businesses in the run up to Christmas to do so safely and avoid the busiest times.
The two councils are providing free parking at Oxford’s five park and ride sites from Saturday 5 December through to Sunday 27 December, to support businesses and help reduce car congestion on approaches to the city centre and at the Westgate car park. The councils are also asking people who plan to use the service to travel outside peak times if they can.
Oxfordshire will be in Tier 2 (High Alert) from 2 December. The government has updated its safe travel advice, including for those walking, cycling, and travelling in vehicles or on public transport. You can read the latest advice on the government's safer travel guidance web page.
Park and ride sites are also a good stopping off place to cycle or walk in to Oxford. Visitors can hop on a bus and head all the way into the city centre, or visit Summertown, Jericho, Headington, Cowley Road or other nearby shops and hospitality venues.
The free parking scheme will operate from Saturday 5 December to Sunday 27 December inclusive, allowing residents who are keen to support city centre and local centre shops, bars and restaurants, service and leisure businesses in the crucial trading period before Christmas, to do so. Oxford Bus Company - who operate services from the five park and ride sites - are supporting the initiative by running a '£4.80 per car maximum charge’ promotion, which will mean that any more than two adults in the same car will get their bus journey for free. Kids will go for free too.
By making parking free all week at all five sites, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council also aim to reduce peak-time congestion on routes into the city and around city centre car parks.
Visitors will be able to take advantage of the offer at Pear Tree, Redbridge, Seacourt, Thornhill and Oxford Parkway park and rides.
Further support for Oxford businesses
The free park and ride parking scheme is the latest in a series of City and County Council initiatives to help Oxford’s businesses operate safely through the coronavirus crisis.
The City Council, supported by the County Council, has supported cafes, restaurants and bars across the city by providing outdoor seating areas in Broad Street, Cornmarket Street, Dawson Street High Street, Observatory Street and St Michael’s Street to continue serving customers whilst adhering to Covid Secure guidelines.
At least four businesses have said they could not have opened after the coronavirus lockdown if it were not for the City Council providing the additional seating areas. The City Council has also installed new bike racks across the city and, throughout August, the City and County made parking at Oxford’s five park and rides free.
“With Oxford now entering Tier 2 restrictions we are encouraging people who plan to shop here or support our hospitality businesses to think carefully about the best times to do so. Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, working together, have made parking at our five Park and Ride sites free from 5 to 27 December inclusive to help people to do that.
“We know people are determined to get behind our local businesses at this incredibly difficult time, and this initiative is a way they can get into the city centre easily, safely, and sustainably by bus or by walking or cycling. Free park and ride parking will also help to unblock Oxford’s congested roads at what are proving to be the busiest times.”
Cllr Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford
“I’m really pleased we’ve been able to work closely with Oxford City Council to reintroduce free parking at our park and ride sites. Having this in place proved really popular in August to support the Eat Out To Help Out scheme and it makes sense for us to do the same now to support jobs and local businesses across Oxford during a busy period ahead of Christmas.
“We are keen to play our part in helping to reduce congestion in the city centre during peak times and we have recently been working closely with the Westgate Centre to help achieve this and we will be putting measures in place which will now be complemented with free parking at the park and ride sites.
“Ultimately we want everyone to be able to travel around safely, enjoy their visiting experience, and reduce the congestion on our roads and this is a great way to help achieve this. We urge all those planning to visit Oxford over the next few weeks to take advantage of this festive gift from both councils.”
Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways Delivery and Operations, Cllr Liam Walker
“This is great news for the city centre economy over the festive period during what continues to be a difficult time.
“Park and ride offers tremendous value and the service is not only COVID safe but also helps reduce congestion in Oxford. All of our buses are deep cleaned daily and customers are required to wear a face covering whilst on board unless exempt.
“Public transport is one of the cleanest places to be during the Coronavirus pandemic. Channel 4’s Dispatches checked surfaces for germs in locations across the country — and concluded that trains and buses were more hygienic than the cafes, supermarkets and hotels it also tested. ‘Touching points’ such as handrails and seats were all found to have ‘no significant traces’ of microbes, with special measures to deep-clean and sanitise public transport deemed ‘very effective’.”
Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director
"Any initiative which encourages greener, smarter, travel to reduce city centre congestion and emissions is a positive one.
“Nobody wants to spend their time sitting in nose to tail traffic, particularly when there is Christmas shopping to be done."
Chris Coleman, Managing Director of Stagecoach
For more details on the sites, visit the Oxford City Council park and ride web page.